November 30, 2010

{Travel Tuesday} Commonwealth in San Francisco, CA

Elegant food in a casual atmosphere, with proceeds going to charity - dinner at Commonwealth was the perfect way to end our San Francisco trip earlier this month.  We were really cutting it close - enjoying a multi-course dinner in the Mission District before rushing to the airport to make our red-eye flight.  But it was well worth it!

We debated between the 6 course $60 tasting menu ($90 with wine pairing) or the a la carte menu.  For every tasting menu order, Commonwealth will donate $10 to charity, which made me want to get the tasting menu.  But the night we were there, both proceeds from both tasting menu and a la carte menu went toward Meals on Wheels.  So instead, we decided to order off the a la carte menu to try more dishes.  Our first taste of the night were complimentary (and addictive) homemade chips with seaweed and pimenton (Spanish paprika) with a malt vinegar mousse (similar to an aoili) for dipping.  A tasty and playful alternative to bread and butter - we were in for a fun dinner.    

November 29, 2010

(Easy Entertaining} NY Yankee/Pub Themed Birthday Party

After Thanksgiving dinner with the family in the Hudson Valley area, we came back to the city to prepare for another celebration:  my husband's birthday!  I turned our apartment into a blue and white NY Yankees (his favorite team) haven with comfort food everywhere.  We had lots of DIY plating stations so guest could make their own fish or shrimp tacos, dress up their own nachos, and put together their own s'mores.  By the end of the night, everyone was stuffed but had a great time.  We hope that our party inspires you to make your own pub night at home!

November 24, 2010

{Sweet Treats} Union Square Holiday Market

We love this time of year:  crisp cool weather, colorful Autumn leaves, and the holidays right around the corner.  I especially love all of the holiday markets that pop up around the city.  Yesterday, I walked around the Union Square Holiday Market and found plenty of great foodie gifts for my husband (and me!).

November 22, 2010

{Easy Recipes} Pumpkin Spice Muffins

I'm lucky. My mother-in-law is a fantastic cook and she usually hosts (US) Thanksgiving.  So my husband and I just show up hungry, bringing wine for his large family.  This year, in addition to the wine, we'll be bringing these light homemade Pumpkin Spice Muffins.  My husband likes these types of desserts - very little sweetness, but a whole lot of spice and nuts.  I'm going to add the same toppers I used for Canadian Thanksgiving for a festive touch.  Fingers crossed that my mother-in-law likes these Pumpkin Spice Muffins too!

November 19, 2010

{Easy Entertaining} Using Paint Chips to Dress Up Your Holiday Table

Happy Friday! Today's post is short and sweet with an easy DIY table topper tool:  Paint Chips! Maybe it's the endless array of colors, but I'm always drawn to the display of paint chips found in any home repair/renovation store.  One day, I was going through the paint chips I had picked out for my brother (he's decorating his first home!) and noticed the names on them.  "Autumn Orange", "Buttered Yam", and "Pumpkin Blush" sounded just like Thanksgiving.  Rather than throwing out the chips, I could use them in my holiday decor!

November 18, 2010

{Food Events} Q & A with Jamie Oliver

This past Monday, we were delighted to attend a screening of Chef Jamie Oliver's new show "Jamie's American Roadtrip" (LA episode) and to participate in a Q&A with the Naked Chef himself.  Jamie's new cookbook, Jamie's America, reflects the American roadtrip he took on the show through recipes and pictures.

November 17, 2010

{Wine Wednesday} Siduri & Novy Wines

While we were in the Bay area, I took my wife to a few wine tastings up in Sonoma.  Our favorite winery in California, Siduri Wines, is actually located in an expansive warehouse located in Santa Rosa, CA.  We were the only visitors on a recent Thursday morning, which made for a true intimate tasting experience.  We got to taste the amazing (and large) lineup of Siduri Pinot Noirs and wines from their other label, Novy Family Wines.  The winery, started by Adam and Diana Lee (both from Texas), does not own any vineyards, but sources its grapes from throughout Sonoma County, California's Central Coast, and Oregon.

November 16, 2010

{Travel Tuesday} Sons & Daughters in San Francisco, CA

Date night in San Francisco started off with a walk up a steep hill to the newly-opened restaurant, Sons & Daughters in the Nob Hill area.  Thankfully, it was only a couple of blocks from our hotel and I was wearing flats.  Walking into the restaurant, I felt like we were back in NYC, dining in a neighborhood joint in  Brooklyn.  The interior was black, white, with shades of gray; while the staff were young and pleasant.  The kitchen was in the middle of the dining room and there was a waiting lounge downstairs.

The changing menu is short, with only 11 dishes (which includes the 2 dessert options) on it.  I liked that the whole table doesn't need to participate in the tasting menu, so my husband went with the bargain 4-course $48 prix fixe tasting menu while I ordered a couple of items a la carte.

November 15, 2010

{Sweet Treats} Limelight Marketplace

After attending the Chocolate Show, I stumbled upon the Limelight Marketplace.  It's a marketplace that used to be a nightclub - that used to be a church.  The marketplace is filled with fashion and food booths.  The space itself is beautiful, with some stained glass windows and vaulted ceilings.  The layout does not make it easy to get around - especially if there's a crowd. So luckily it was fairly empty when I visited on a Thursday afternoon and I headed straight for the Sweet Room (a hallway of sweet treats).

November 12, 2010

{Food Events} 2010 Chocolate Show in NYC

With the holidays approaching, I've got tons of sweet treats in mind for gifts and party favors.  So it was timely that the annual Chocolate Show in NYC is taking place from now until this Sunday, Nov. 14th.  I went yesterday to the Metropolitan Pavilion to check out the chocolate fashions, demonstrations, and, of course, samples from here and around the world.

November 9, 2010

{Travel Tuesday} Plum in Oakland, CA

My husband missed the Coi dinner I enjoyed the last time I was in San Fran.  And even though he got to try many of Daniel Patterson's tasting at the Le Fooding event in NYC, I knew he would want to dine at his restaurant.  He suggested Chef Patterson's newer, more affordable restaurant Plum.  After the wonderful, intimate service (thanks to Chef Kate who took the time to chat and explain the dishes to us) we enjoyed on a lazy Sunday night, I was so happy he took me here.

November 8, 2010

{Sweet Treats} Miette Patisserie in San Francisco

I love candy shops.  The bright colors and numerous sweet treats never fail to make me smile.  When visiting San Francisco's Ferry Plaza Marketplace, I like checking out Miette Patisserie.  Not only do they sell everything from cupcakes to macarons, but they beautifully present their products on cute dishes and glass jars.  It's a great inspiration for dessert tables at parties.  I'm definitely going to have to throw a party with this "candy shop" theme in mind!  Happy Monday!

November 7, 2010

{Food Events} Foodbuzz Festival Day 2: Workshops, Tasting Pavilion, and Gala Dinner

Continuing from Day 1's night of eating and meeting, Day 2 of the Foodbuzz Festival tested the limits of how much food we could consume and how many names we could remember!  We learned photography tips, watched a fish cooking demonstration, ate sponsored samples, and enjoyed a final, four-course meal.

November 6, 2010

{Food Events} Foodbuzz Festival Day 1: Foodie Swap and Street Food Fare

Last night we attending the first day of the Foodbuzz Festival (the reason why we're in San Fran!)  Like last year, there was plenty of food and opportunity to meet with our foodie friends in person.  Between the Food Network camera crew filming Mission Minis cupcakes for an upcoming episode of Cupcake Wars and trying to keep up with the tweets on this event (follow hashtag #fbzfest), we did manage to stuff ourselves silly.

Our favorite foods of the night included both food trucks (French cuisine from Spencer on the Go and spicy Indian food from Curry Up Now), fresh fruit from Frog Hollow Farm, strong beers from Magnolia Pub and Brewery and The Social Kitchen and Brewery, the porchetta sandwich from Roli Roti, and sweet treats from Mission Minis and Straus Creamery

November 5, 2010

{Our Favourite Things} DIY Food Packages

We're currently in San Francisco to attend the 2nd annual Foodbuzz Festival, a gathering of fellow food bloggers (in other words, another great excuse to eat, drink, and mingle all weekend long!).  One of the fun events planned is a food swap where each attendee brings something food-related that represents either his/her blog or geographical region.  With the holidays approaching, gift ideas are always needed so we wanted to share what we brought to represent us.   

November 4, 2010

{Easy Recipes} DIY Airplane Food (Bulgur Salad and other parts of our Mile-High Picnic)

My husband's not a fan of long flights - he can't sleep and easily gets bored.  So, in addition to the TV, Internet (we're writing this post up in the air as we speak!), and countless magazines, I always plan on bringing a nice homemade meal when we're flying.  (Especially when we're flying on a commercial domestic airline for 6 hours that's only providing us with a free beverage - maybe two).  Check out our travel tips and our picnic in the sky. We'd love to know your thoughts and your travels tips too!

November 3, 2010

{Easy Entertaining} Twilight Birthday Party

Twilight eclipse cupcakes (photo courtesy Christina C)
While I was organizing my friend's baby shower, my very creative friend and HLFD reader Christina was hosting a Twilight Birthday Party.  I loved her ideas and she kindly sent us photos of her party.  It looked like so much fun and I wished I was there!  Enjoy her beautiful black, red, and white Twilight spread!

November 2, 2010

{Travel Tuesday}: Cooking with Banana Blossoms in Vietnam

Banana Blossom (photo credit:  Ruestz)
We're currently packing our bags to San Francisco for the annual Foodbuzz Festival.  Our friend Rogelio has kindly provided this guest post on his recent honeymoon trip to Vietnam.  While on vacation, they took a cooking class (so jealous!), which provided the recipe below.  We can't wait to find the ingredients and make this for an International Party at home. Enjoy!

One of the main reasons we honeymooned in Vietnam and Cambodia was the food. We really enjoy the combination of spicy, salty, sweet and sour found in countries close to the Tropic of Cancer. We were so excited about the food that we decided to take a cooking class in Hoi An, Vietnam where we had an unusual, yet delicious salad. It was so different in fact, that I decided to write a guest post for my favorite blog (HLFD) and was happy that they liked my idea!

Found primarily throughout Asia, Banana Blossoms (also known as banana flower) grow on the end of the stem holding a cluster of bananas. They have a deep crimson color and consist of tightly packed leaves. The outer leaves are the female part while the inner, edible leaves, are the male part of the flower. It is the inner pale colored bracts that are used for food dishes.

November 1, 2010

{Sweet Treats} Trader Joe's Macarons and Giveaway Winner Announced

After dragging my husband all over NYC last March to sample macarons, you could say I have an affinity for these little guys.  They can come in so many different colors, making them perfect for a stylish party!  But my favorite ones at Maison du Chocolat cost $2.50/each , which can add up quickly when you want a few dozen for a bridal shower or to entertain a group of friends at home.

So when I saw a box of 12 macarons (6 vanilla, 6 chocolat) in the frozen dessert section of my neighborhood Trader Joe's, I instantly grabbed it.  At only $4.99/box (less than 42 cents/macaron), I wanted to try them for my next party.  Though not nearly as good as the best macarons I've ever eaten, the Trader Joe's macarons are surprisingly pretty tasty, not to mention much more affordable.